BUTTE, Mont. - Contractors in Butte started tearing down the Brincks building early Thursday morning, ending a years-long battle over the historic building.
The Brincks and Deluxe buildings are located at the corner of Front Street and Utah Avenue. The immediate area around both has been blocked off with barriers and fences. Traffic is being directed up Wyoming Street and Arizona Street to First Street to get around the area.
The crane took its first bite out of the Brincks building Thursday at 8 a.m.
"So we can hopefully chew down that top floor for the most part today," said Butte-Silver Bow Public Works Director Dave Shultz.
He told us the buildings seem to be in rough shape.
"It's kind of sad to see these buildings go, but I guess it's time," Shultz said.
Shultz said they budgeted for 8 days with the crane, but after just one day the project appears ahead of schedule.
"It's looking real real good," he said. "It's early in the process, so I'm not over confident, but so far its going very well."
Operating Engineer Tom Graham told us they will be finished tearing down the top floors Thursday afternoon.
"We're taking that crane with the clam bucket and we're going to clam that down low enough so the city can reach it with the excavator," he said.
Graham said they were prepared for whatever the old buildings contained.
"You know, it's an old building, so it's bound to have some dust and stuff in there, but we've got the water truck to spray it down," said Graham.
Shultz said after they haul out the remains of the Brincks, they will begin demolishing the Deluxe.
"We'll have to be a bit more careful as we work on the Deluxe, because of the adjacent buildings," Shultz said.
Shultz said the entire project should be completed in about four weeks.
The city's been debating the fate of the 126 year old building for the past five years.
The Brincks building was built in 1888 and the Deluxe went up just 8 years later, sharing the west wall. Over a century later, the Brincks building was falling apart and there was concern over the Deluxe Bar next door.
Butte-Silver Bow decided to buy the Deluxe, because they didn't think they could demolish the Brincks and save the shared wall.
Butte residents had mixed feelings about the demolition.
"It's really sad," said Butte resident Kathy Parsons. "Too bad it was too expensive to save, it's been here all my life, it's just going to feel like a big empty spot now with it gone"
"I was just like 'Are they going to do anything with that building?'" said Butte resident, Charles Ritchie. "Because it's like such a waste either way, not used or used, and now I'm just curious to see what they're going to do."
Here's what's next for the area the Brincks and Deluxe buildings once stood. There are three options, the city could have the land appraised and sell it, or they could create a Developer's Packet for new construction on the land. The last option is putting up an entrance to uptown, with a sign or monument, and paving a parking lot with the land left over.
We're told they're looking at the options closely and may come up with more options down the road.
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